"We have a file on Greg Palast" Greg Palast for Truthout/Buzzflash
Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: in Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores. See Palast live on stage in New York, DC and other cities..
Last Monday, a call came in to BBC Television Centre, London, from the office of Mitt Romney's billionaire backer and "advisor" Paul Singer.
Singer, top donor to the Republican Senate Campaign Committee had a message for the news chiefs at the prestigious broadcaster:
"We have a file on Greg Palast."
I bet they do.
The purpose of the Singer call was clear: to smear the reporter whose broadcasts from Africa for BBC Newsnight, The Guardian and Democracy Now! had identified Singer as a "Vulture," a speculator profiteering from misery, mayhem, corruption and civil war.
Apparently, the Republican Presidential front-runner would prefer his sugar-daddies be known as "job creators," not predators.
And the Vulture really, really, doesn't like his starring role in my new book, Vultures' Picnic. I bet he doesn't.
Is BBC going to let Palast continue to investigate? The Romney money man added an unsubtle threat, "Palast has been sued before."
Neither BBC nor The Guardian are backing down, bless'm.
What is in the file Mitt's billionaire has on Greg Palast? I'll show it to you myself, right here, if you have a little patience.
But it's not what's in Singer's file on me that's important — it's what's in my file about him.
You need to know: BBC has identified Singer as the Number One donor of the Republican Party in New York. His fundraising, in coordination with the Koch Brothers through a strange little group of far-right billionaires, is the cash-locomotive of the GOP.
How Singer "The Vulture" got his feathers, got that money that fuels the Romney and Republican causes is not a minor matter. Romney and the whole crew from Newt to Cain are selling us the line that Occupy Wall Street has it all wrong: calling for taxing or controlling the One Percent is a misguided attack on "job creators."
Indeed, one of Romney's demands is that I change the name of my book from Vultures' Picnic to Job-Creators' Picnic. [OK, I made that up.]
Let's begin with how Singer got his feathers.
I didn't give Singer the name "Vulture." His own banker buddies did—with admiration in their voices. Like any vulture, he feasts when victims die. Literally. For example, Singer made a pile buying an asbestos company, Owens Corning, out of bankruptcy. Owens had knowingly allowed thousands of its workers to get deadly asbestosis, then concealed it. You don't want to die of asbestosis. Your lungs turn to mush and you drown inside yourself.
Singer, the Job Creator, used his political muscle to screw down the compensation workers would get. Offered them peanuts. And dying, they took it. With the asbestos workers buried or bought, the asbestos death factories were now worth a fortune ...and Singer made his first "killing."
Then it was on to Peru where Singer had, through a brilliant financial-legal maneuver too questionable for others to attempt, grabbed control of the entire financial system of Peru. Most important, he seized the President's jet. When the scamp of a President, Alberto Fujimori, decided it was a good idea to flee his country (ahead of his arrest on murder charges), Singer, Peru's lawyer told me, let Fujimori escape in return for the Murderer-in-Chief ordering Peru's treasury to pay Singer $58 million.
But that's nothing. What really sent Mitt's man up a wall was my report from the Congos (there are two nations in Africa called 'Congo') where there's a cholera epidemic due to lack of clean water. Singer paid we're told about $10 million for some "debt" supposedly incurred by the Republic of Congo. Congo would pay the $10 million, but Singer had begun seizing about $400 million in the poor nation's assets.
The former Deputy Secretary of the UN said about the vultures, "you are causing babies to die."
It's legal, it's sick, it's Singer.
Well, not legal in most of the civilized world. Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said about Singer and his fellow crew, "I deplore the activities of so-called Vulture Funds, [they] are nothing short of scandalous." Britain has outlawed Singer's re-po man seizures (after all, it's ultimately the aid money we give Africa). In the UK, and in much of Europe, Singer is a finance outlaw. But in the USA, he's a "job creator."
Look, I've only scratched the surface from BBC's four-year investigation of Singer who says he'll talk with us, "Never, ever."
* * *
You want to get the whole story—and you damn well should—then read the book. Don't want to pay for it? Alright, I'm putting up most of the Singer material online. Though I don't mean to pick on Singer alone. The whole book is an investigation of the One Percenters, including Singer's sicker buddies in the Vulture club. (Yes, they do have a club.)
* * *
Warning 1: Singer's mouthpiece says that Vultures' Picnic is "chock full of errors." He's refused every opportunity to meet with us. Even the character leaving the threat on the phone won't talk with us. OK, then send me the list of errors. If I'm wrong, I'll change it.
And I want to give you an opportunity, Mr. Singer, to make your case. I am giving a talk in Manhattan, on Monday not far from your penthouse at 7pm. You be there, and I'll share the stage with you. Maybe we'll share a beer and some carrion afterward.
Warning 2: Yes, they have a file on me. It's in Vultures' Picnic. Yes, I was caught going "undercover" on an investigation with a comely young politician to get information. (Got the story ...and my photo on the front page of the Mirror.) There. Read it all and see the photos in Chapter 9. Now you have it. Now I've taken away their favorite bullet: character assassination.
Turkey vultures living in trees defend themselves by vomiting on their attackers. Apparently, so do the Vultures living in penthouses.
Greg Palast is the author of Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores, released in the US and Canada by Penguin.